Muscat’s most magnificent religious building and the only mosque in Oman to open its doors to tourists, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Built in the Ghubrah suburb back in 2001, the landmark building is an impressive feat of contemporary Islamic architecture and one of the largest mosques in the Gulf, with the 40,000-square-meter grounds able to accommodate an incredible 20,000 worshippers at one time.
Set within a vast walled compound, overlooked by 5 towering minarets, the Grand Mosque encompasses two prayer halls encircled by a courtyard, gardens and a series of water features. Incorporating elements of Omani, Persian and Egyptian design, the complex is sculpted entirely from pristine white Indian sandstone and includes a Ladies’ Prayer Hall, library and meeting rooms. The crowning glory of the mosque is the lavish central prayer hall, a gleaming mass of white and grey marble adorned with elaborate tile work and featuring a 14-meter tall Swarovski crystal chandelier and the second largest carpet in the world – a 70-meter-long, hand-woven Iranian rug. Beneath the dramatic 50-meter high gold, latticed dome, there is space for up to 6,600 prayer mats.
While the mosque welcomes visitors, non-Muslims may only enter the main prayer hall during designated times and both men and women entering the mosque are required to follow the dress code – arms, legs and hair (women only) must be covered.